NANCY HOPKINS is a pioneering researcher who has advanced the understanding of tumor-causing viruses and the genes that control vertebrate development. Her team at MIT identified 25 percent of the genes critical for zebrafish development; in recognition of her work, Hopkins was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. But while Hopkins used cutting-edge tools to advance science, she deployed a humble tape measure to promote gender equity in science. Hopkins helped prove to MIT’s leadership that female faculty faced discrimination, beginning with measurements showing that her male colleagues’ labs were up to four times as large as her own. In 1999, a committee led by Hopkins produced a report that spurred key changes at MIT, ultimately helping boost the number of women in faculty and leadership positions. Other universities followed suit with similar studies and policy changes. Now the Amgen Professor of Biology emerita at MIT, Hopkins remains a vocal champion of women in academia and industry.
Nancy Hopkins, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT (retired) • Photography by David Fox Photographer